Gymnasts concerns over Hallglen centre closure threat

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Concerned young gymnasts fear their hopes for sporting success will be dashed if their training venue is closed.

Around 300 youngsters aged four to 18 years are members of Forth Valley Gymnastics Club. They currently meet in Hallglen Sports Centre but the venue is at risk of closure as Falkirk Community Trust and Falkirk Council look to save cash.

A recent meeting of the local authority heard the building is considered “no longer fit for purpose” by the trust.

Councillors heard it is in need of a minimum spend of £300,000 for a major refurbishment and make it fully operational.

But the gymnasts and club officials believe the centre has been allowed to fall into disrepair with no investment in the building in the six years they have been leasing the facility.

Jacqueline Inglis, who set up the club in 2006, said: “In the time that we have been here there has been no repairs carried out. There is no heating in the hall and this has stopped us from introducing pre-school classes as it is too cold for little children.

“However, we are worried where we would go if the centre were to close down. We’ve lots of equipment that is used by the 300 members over the course of the week. We also need a venue that is big enough and has a high ceiling to allow our youngsters to practice properly.”

Two years ago the centre faced the axe but was saved at the 11th hour but Jacqueline said they knew “it was always on the radar”.

She added: “It’s not as if the centre is underused. It may be quiet during the day but we cannot get any more time in the evenings and already have to travel to Alloa one night a week for practice sessions. We rent the hall from 4pm-9pm Tuesday to Friday and from 10.30am to 2.30pm every Saturday.

“Our last bill which covered a three month period was £5000 – but that money has never been used to maintain the building.”

The club’s work with young people has been recognised with Lottery funding.

Youngsters have had success in numerous events over the years, most recently taking a medal in the UK championships and have four members hoping for a place in the British training squad.

The move to close the Hallglen centre is a proposal within the trust’s business plan for the coming financial year.

Falkirk Council approval is needed to take this forward.

This week, Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, council leader, said: “I have asked the trust to look at what they can bring forward without closing any facilities.”